The First Houses: from Waterfront to Skybreak, Experiments in Living


Residential commissions were a laboratory for Team 4: the teachings of Rudolph, Chermayeff and Stirling or the influence of Kahn combined with the popularity of Siedlung Halen, and all were tested in several unbuilt projects and two completed schemes. For the Brumwells the team developed a plan for 19 houses on the site of their earlier home in Cornwall, but the project – which evolved from the glass roofs of the first version of Creek Vean to the terraced sections of Atelier 5 –failed to obtain planning permission; and for Wates Homes, a housing company, the architects worked on a large scheme in Surrey that replayed the stepped section and high density of Siedlung Halen, and here it was the fear of risk that made the company drop the experiment. The three houses in Murray Mews with characteristic glass roofs, and the house for Michael Jaffé in Radlett (of Clockwork Orange fame, and which Foster named ‘Skybreak’ after the roof lights) were top-lit exercises in density which managed to get built in arduous struggle with the wet trades of construction; and in the close knit tapestry of Skybreak, achieving a promenade architecturale through the light and shadows of the stepped platforms which is also a fitting representation of the changing family of the 60s...[+]

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